November Artist of the month:
Daniel Swartz of Hoosier Type Company
We asked Daniel a few questions to get to know him better:
What song is currently on repeat for you?
The whole Interstellar soundtrack. Great to work and run to.
What is your guilty pleasure snack?
Diet Code Red Mountain Dew. But I haven't had it for almost two years, it vanished in 2020. For awhile I was nearly obsessive about checking gas stations and grocery stores trying to find it but I think that ship has sailed. Also, I have fond memories of Choc-ola (an Indiana original!) but it was discontinued in 1985 so...probably not going to find any more of that either.
Do you prefer creating digitally or creating with your hands?
It really depends on the project, though over time I find myself leaning more toward the type of projects that demand physical, analog work. Working digitally is fast and cheap, great for iterations and revisions. But personally I value having a physical artifact at the end of the process. I also used to spend a significant amount of time digitally impersonating imperfections and at some point I just decided it was time to authentically match the final product with the process.
But, the computer is an awesome tool. I still do occasional client work and it is an integral part of my letterpress design process. I usually make multiple mockups to play with type and space and color before moving into my studio. A great way to quickly and cheaply investigate a lot of possibilities before committing to the more involved printing process.
Do you enjoy any non art related hobbies? If so, what?
Yeah, I do. I'm a regular runner, not marathons or anything but I usually hit the roads at least three times a week. Running is really key for me, it is a great way to have time to reset and consider things and I'm always recharged afterward and much more productive. I also enjoy instant photography and playing the ukulele when I have time.
How do you define success as an artist?
That's such a difficult question! I don't know that all of these are equally balanced, but I think there's a component of each of them for me. First, that whatever the work is I've chosen can turn a profit and allow me to save for the future. Especially with a family, that's important. Maybe more practical than inspirational but if I can't make money at it I feel like I need to reconsider my approach. I'm an optimist and feel like there's a market for almost anything if you can just find it, so even if it isn't working now we can use our creativity to find ways to fix that. Second, to make work that betters the world in some way. At the very least to be able to use the gifts we've been given as creators and to turn that around and inspire, or comfort, or help people through our work. And even if that's just a small audience, I think that's great. Not everyone needs to be a rockstar. Good work is done in small, quiet places too.
How do you manage a work-life balance as an artist?
This is definitely a work in progress and something I think that needs to be relearned through different seasons.
First, knowing that there is always more work to do, or at least we can come up with more busyness and find some kind of solace in that, even if it isn't productive. So I think realizing that helps me be able to "turn it off" more easily and prioritize other things in life.
Secondly, having kids has helped me realize how quickly time is passing. It sounds trite, but they really do grow up quickly, and if I don't make time for them I'm going to miss a lot of things that there won't ever be a second chance to experience. It doesn't always take a lot though. Tonight I let my youngest pick out any game for just he and I to play, so for 15 minutes we played Operation with no distractions. Just us and a simple game but he absolutely loved it and it built a small memory.
Finally, I think realizing that we aren't machines and made to work continually has been key for me. Maybe just as much that all the other aspects of our selves plays into our creativity. So when I take time to pay attention and nurture my other parts (physical, social, spiritual, mental, emotional, etc.) that balance helps me be a better creator. I think hyperfocus at the exclusion of the other parts can be detrimental in the long run.
Still lots of work to do on all of this, but slow and steady wins the race I hope.